Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race

· Paul Dry Books

About this ebook

"Palmer was fourteen years old in September 1958 when he made the unlikely journey alone by train to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. It is impossible to read this boy’s story―‘ninth child of ten, and the sixth of seven sons’―without feeling the loneliness of that first passage away from home―a black boy crossing into a bastion of white privilege―and the scale of the transformation that awaited him."―Carrie Brown, author of The Stargazer's Sister

"My friendship with Larry has been among the most enduring of my Exeter friendships, but―before I read his memoir of social and racial dislocation―I never knew the story that unfolded in the home Larry left when he came to Exeter. Larry’s remarkable family story gives me a deeper appreciation of someone I met as a teenager and have known all my life. As a teammate and a friend, I always loved Larry. Now I understand him more."―John Irving

“Larry Palmer’s Scholarship Boy is a poignant exploration of family, longing, and cultural disorientation, seen through the eyes of an African American teenager sent to live and study at a prestigious New England prep school in the 1950s. This absorbing story reminds us that the questions of race and identity we wrestle with today are nothing new, and progress, when it comes at all, often comes at a snail’s pace.”―Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

“Near the end of Larry Palmer’s fine memoir Scholarship Boy his family tries to assemble for a family portrait. The picture is difficult to compose: the family members are moving hither and yon, reassembling in different configurations, struggling to honor the intricacies that govern the Palmer clan. And they are a rich and complex family, with Lear-like grand personalities. Scholarship Boy is also a book about a very brilliant young man who went to Phillips Exeter, Harvard College, and Yale Law School. It is a tale of his loneliness, his desire to honor his parents’ dictates, his difficulty in living in two worlds, and his ability, thank goodness, to find mentors, institutions, and friends to sustain him. It is also a very poignant narrative, full of pathos and love, about one family’s participation in recent African American history, including segregation, school integration, and dreams fulfilled and nullified. Honest, gracefully written, and uncompromisingly vulnerable, Larry Palmer’s book is unceremoniously generous. Palmer does not grandstand: He is never simply this or that. He is, in the best sense, simply himself: A man trying to stand in a furious whirlwind.” ―Kenneth A. McClane, W.E.B. DuBois Professor of Literature Emeritus, Cornell University

“On the surface, this is the story of a black boy’s adventure of finding his way in the all-white, blazers, ties and sports world of an all-boys boarding school in the 1950s. Its heart, however, is the family this boy comes from. As the next to the youngest of ten, it was the older brothers and sisters who gave this scholarship boy the chops to navigate the treacherous waters of an alien world with aplomb and make the best of his opportunities. What an apt tribute that each of them gets to step into the limelight of this luminous coming-of-age memoir.”―Annette Gendler, author of Jumping Over Shadows and How to Write Compelling Stories from Family History

About the author

Larry I. Palmer holds degrees from Harvard University and Yale Law School, and he spent most of his career at Cornell University as a law professor and university administrator. He is the author of two scholarly works, Law, Medicine, and Social Justice and Endings and Beginnings. Scholarship Boy is his first book for a general audience.

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